Grants to reduce pregnancy pollution risks

More than $500,000 has been handed out to organisations in five US states to raise awareness about environmental health risks that can harm unborn babies.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) awarded the grants to educate health care organisations and women in Ohio, Michigan, Oregon, Florida and Texas.

EPA wants the funding to be used to focus on issues such as exposure to mercury, lead, environmental tobacco smoke, chemicals, pesticides, drinking water contaminants and air contaminants.

Dona Deleon, acting director of EPA's Office of Children's Health Protection and Environmental Education, said: "We're giving pregnant women information on how to avoid exposure to certain environmental hazards to give children a healthy start to life.

"These grants help the public health community reach women during this important time in their lives."

About 3,000 health care providers and 10,000 women are expected to benefit from the grants.

Funding will be used for projects such as training for healthcare providers and home visiting staff, and printing education material for the public and patients.

The largest grant of $117,747 has been awarded to the Michigan Inter-Tribal Council, which will use the money to educate Native American women about environmental health risks.

Exposure to high levels of lead during pregnancy contributes to miscarriage, premature birth and developmental delays.

Studies in America have linked high levels of ozone and carbon monoxide pollution with heart defects in babies and problems such as premature or low-weight babies.

Kate Martin


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